Real-Life Vampires: Who Are They?

The computer science student at a northern California college is open and introspective about his identity. His professors, for example, know that he identifies as a vampire. But fearing the consequences that might accompany their decision to "come out of the coffin," he said, many professionals, such as doctors, lawyers and nurses, keep their identities a secret.

This makes the exact size of the vampire community difficult to quantify. The diversity of the community's belief systems and habits only adds to the difficulty, he said.

Such diversity also makes it virtually impossible for one person to speak for the entire group, he said.

For starters, not all real-life vampires drink blood, he said. While "sanguine" vampires say they need to drink human or animal blood to revive themselves, "pranic" vampires say they can simply feed off the energy of other humans. Pranic stems from the Hindu notion of prana, or energy, he added.

Seraphim, a pranic vampire, said that he can draw on the energy of people who are within 25 or 30 feet of him.

When he was younger, Seraphim suffered from intense migraines, he said. When a friend who practiced Reiki attempted to alleviate his pain with the energy-healing practice, Seraphim said he started to think that it was an imbalance of internal energy that was causing his headaches.

"As a 'spiritual diabetic,' I unknowingly stumbled through the varying degrees of my condition," he told ABCNews.com.

Now, when he begins to feel depleted or out of balance, he can either "sip" from the ambient energy of surrounding crowds or eat a "scheduled full meal" from a group of friends who have granted their permission.

Seraphim, who said that he has always thought of himself as an empathetic person, has noticed that in his presence, others' emotions become enhanced. In a sense, he said, this creates a surplus of energy that he can feed from to balance out a deficiency of his own.

Aware of the strong effect he has on others, he said, he is constantly working to control his power. Friends and family tell him that he doesn't hurt them, but they do sometimes admit to feeling more drained, he said. Some say they feel "transparent" around him.

But his identity hasn't harmed his relationships, he stressed. He and his mother are close, and he said he has a diverse collection of friends. Many of them are also vampires and members of House Lost Haven, a close-knit, semiformal group of vampires and "otherkins" who believe that their souls are connected to nonhuman creatures, he said.

But not all of his friends are vampires, and he said he also dates women outside the community.

His girlfriend, Shade, isn't sure if she's a vampire and is exploring the identity, he said. Still, she has been initiated into House Lost Haven.

As a pranic vampire, Seraphim said that he doesn't feel the need to drink blood. But, on a few occasions, he has experimented with it with people, like Shade, whom he trusts, he said..

"I had a drink of someone's blood before and got a positive experience out of it, but I don't need that to survive," he said.

Why the Desire for Blood?

Some vampires cite the so-called Renfield's syndrome, a condition used to describe an obsession to drink blood. (Renfield is the name of the fly-eating character in Bram Stoker's "Dracula.")

But this condition is not recognized in medical literature and is rejected by medical doctors, psychiatrists and psychologists.

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